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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Video

>> AFTER ALL (acoustic)

This purely and simply breaks me. There’s a purity and a power behind David Crowder’s voice that’s accentuated by the setting of this video.

This was a great song on the album, but this is something else altogether.

 
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Posted by on 25/02/2013 in Uncategorized

 

>> PLAYER ONE

This is a quick one, as I’m writing it before crawling off to bed – but I just read this in Douglas Coupland’s latest book “Player One” and it made me think. I don’t really buy all of it, but it’s definitely thought-provoking:

The crux seems to be that our lives stopped being stories. And if we are no longer to have lives that are stories, what will our lives have become? Yet seeing one’s life as a story seems like nostalgic residue from an era when energy was cheap and the story of the super-special, ultra-important individual with blogs and Google hits and a killer résumé was a conceit that the planet was still able to materially support. In the New Normal, we need to strip ourselves of notions of individual importance. Something new is arising that has neither interest in nor pity for souls trapped in twentieth century solipsism. Non-linear stories? Multiple endings? No loading times? It’s called life on earth. Life need not be a story, but it does need to be an adventure.

Do you agree? Coupland is a shrewd cultural observer, but it seems like a bleak view to take as a Christian. Or maybe it’s just that we need a new, more community-focussed way of viewing faith, too – I could get behind that, certainly.

I don’t know if I believe that my life is a story, but I still believe that it’s part of a bigger story, this movement of people that I reckon God has been working through for centuries. 

That said, given my background, I would do. So what do you think?

 
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Posted by on 24/02/2013 in God, Other

 

>> FRENCH ONION SOUP

I’m on half term this week, which is a strange thing. Despite being a week out of school, I still have 50 exercise books to mark, four medium-term plans to write, two days worth of lessons to do and an essay to finish. So much for a holiday. But anyway, I decided to give myself a whole three days off, and so have been off from Saturday until today before diving into the pile of stuff above tomorrow.

I’ve never been much good at taking holiday, because I never really know what to do with it – I either end up getting hopelessly bored, or watching a whole box set of something, or walking four miles to the nearest Caffe Nero every day just to give myself some routine, none of which are especially relaxing. But I’m getting better, anyway, as today I had a plan – I was going to go and buy some LEGO and build something. Brilliant. Engage my creativity, reclaim my childish joy, etc. 
 
Listen, don’t judge me here. I went to visit my four-year old nephew last weekend (actually, he’s not my nephew yet, not until July, but I don’t know if there’s a technical term for that – nephew-to-be, maybe) and we spent a whole afternoon playing with his LEGO and it was really relaxing. LEGO is used as a therapeutic tool, apparently, and it engages a different part of your brain. Anyway, I built a kind of LEGO lizard thing that even David Attenborough might have been impressed by. It’s a perfect way to switch off from the last term.
 
But then I went to the toy shop to try and buy some LEGO, and it turns out that it is super expensive. I mean, if I’d wanted to build a LEGO police station (and I did, believe me), I would have had to shell out at least £20, and that was too much for reclaiming my childhood, I’ll have you know. Somewhere at home I have a large treasure chest full of LEGO – actually a literal treasure chest, although it is red and made out of plastic – full of LEGO cowboys and bits of LEGO castles. So I could maybe get my parents to ship it down here, although by the time it arrives term will have started again and I’ll just end up using it to illustrate a lesson on Macbeth, or something.
 
The upshot is, I didn’t make a LEGO police station today. But I did decide to make French Onion Soup, which is maybe the second-best holiday activity out there, given that it requires lots of time and sweating of onions, and creates something that is warming and comforting at the end. I used Nigel Slater’s recipe, for which you’ll need a large saucepan that you can cover over:
 
3 large onions, sliced
A decent knob of butter
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp plain flour
250ml white wine
1 litre chicken stock
Salt and black pepper
Some bread and cheese
 
It’s simple. Basically, melt your butter on a medium heat, put your sliced onions in and then cover them, stirring occasionally and not letting them colour. They need to be sticky and soft, so give them about 30 mins.
 
Then add your flour, stir, add your wine about a minute later, then the chicken stock. Bring it to the boil, add salt and pepper to taste, and then let it simmer for another half an hour. Toast some bread with cheese on top and then eat. 
 
Not quite as good as LEGO, but pretty darn close.
 
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Posted by on 11/02/2013 in Uncategorized

 

>> THE UNIVERSAL

Blur’s “The Universal” remains my favourite song that they have ever written. I’m prone to singing enthusiastically along to it in the car, even though its about a bleak, post-apocalyptic future where there is no escape from the state. A little ironic for British Gas, but there you go.

It’s also fairly apt for a PGCE year, as

The days, they seem to flow through you –
Just let them go.

 
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Posted by on 07/02/2013 in Uncategorized

 

>> YOUTH LAGOON – DROPLA

This is a deeply beautiful thing courtesy of Youth Lagoon, a band who I only heard of yesterday thanks to Pitchfork. Still, there’s something both fragile and strangely muscular about the lead singer’s refrain of “you will never die, you will never die, you will never die…”

It’s shimmering, hazy and haunting. Like MGMT if they’d spent more time listening to My Bloody Valentine and hadn’t lost their bite. I approve.

Listen to it here:

 

 
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Posted by on 04/02/2013 in Music, Other

 

>> FOODLESS, MUSICLESS, GODLESS?

Foodless, musicless, godless? 
(A slightly tongue in cheek response to everything suddenly getting really, really busy)
 
I was doing marriage prep with my fiancée the other day when…
 
Whoops, did I not mention that? Oh yeah. I got engaged. A while back, actually.
 
So anyway, I was doing marriage prep with my fiancée, here at our church in Bristol…
 
Oh, and I moved to Bristol, too. And stopped working for a church and started training as a teacher instead, come to think of it. And started subsisting on a bursary every month and commuting an hour and a half to Weston-super-Mare every day.
 
But hey, listen, enough about me. How are you doing?
 
You may have noticed that things have been a bit quiet around this blog lately, mostly because life got really busy and funds got a little less and priorities changed a bit. All of which feels like a necessary, valuable part of life, but then I had this conversation the other night about what happened to my hobbies (I am, it turns out, highly worried about waking up and realising that I am suddenly very boring) and I started to wonder about that too.
 
Of course, it’s fine to give yourself to work and to relationships, isn’t it, and maybe the time to blog is past anyway – after all, even if you do write it, who else has time to read it, we all have jobs now anyway – so perhaps you just accept that it’s time to let go. A new life stage, that kind of thing.
 
But then I started this blog as a way of thinking about things I love, and now the temptation is to turn it into a teacher blog instead (no kidding – it makes you more employable to prove that you’re digitally literate, not to mention distinctly less employable to write stuff like this). Only what that means is that you lose some of the things that used to make you come alive or they lose their vibrancy, at least, and that can’t be wholly a good thing. Everything becomes career development instead, work; a way of finding useful illustrations for your next lesson. Always a temptation, but not a good one.
 
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is you shouldn’t read into my silence that I have become foodless, musicless and godless, because none of those things are true. I’ve just been trying to get up to speed with work, trying to figure out how to have a life on top of being a teacher and not losing your mind in the process. But I think I’m realising that a large part of that is in holding onto the things that give you life – like your relationships, and those things that give you that little shock of joy inside and the stuff that takes you outside of your introverted, isolated world. 
 
Today, for example, it was the lightly toasted sourdough bread I bought at a knockdown price last night and that pretty much made my day. It sounds like a tiny thing, but the joy that something like that brings shouldn’t be underestimated.
 
Holding onto those things is invariably going to mean some reorientation, and the stripping away of some bad habits or the laziness and panic that often characterises a PGCE year. That’s okay though, I think, as all of this is a learning process anyway (life, I mean, not just a PGCE) and all of us have a long way to go. 
 
For the sake of sanity and well being, I will try and hold onto these things. 
 
You do too, okay? Because it’s been too long since we last did this, and, y’know… I’ve kind of missed it.
 
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Posted by on 03/02/2013 in Uncategorized